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This was the third adjournment in the high-profile case for which hearings are yet to start

A metropolitan court in Ahmedabad on Monday adjourned the hearing of the criminal defamation case against news portal ‘The Wire’ filed by Jay Amit Shah to December 16.

The petitioner, the son of BJP president Amit Shah, reportedly failed to turn up in the court for the first day of hearing. The adjournment came after Jay Shah, through his advocate, sought exemption from appearance in court for a day on the ground of social engagement, reported The Indian Express.

The Wire’s editors, reporters and others were present in the court for the hearing.

This was the third adjournment in the high-profile case after Shah’s lawyer senior advocate SV Raju failed to appear in court for the first hearing scheduled on October 11 as he was busy in high court. The second time, the court had earlier adjourned the hearing to October 26 as the Gujarat High Court had declared the day a holiday.

The news portal ‘The Wire’ and its editors and writer are facing defamation suit over a report, published on October 8, that claimed the turnover of Jay Shah’s firm grew exponentially – 16,000 times – after BJP came to power in 2014.

“This was the first day of the hearing and Jay Shah, the complainant in the criminal defamation against The Wire, did not show up,” the Outlook reported one of the founding editors of the portal, MK Venu as saying.

Venu said: “When the Judge asked the lawyer of Jay Shah about the absence of the complainant, his lawyer said he couldn’t come because of his social work commitments!”

“Procedurally, we were supposed to receive the documents from the other side. We will come on the 16th”, Venu told Outlook.

The metropolitan court issued summonses to the news portal and its editors after it prima facie found that a case of defamation punishable with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both under section 500 of IPC was made out against all the seven respondents, including the writer Rohini Singh.

The order was issued after considering the depositions of three witnesses, including Jay Amit Shah, as well as documentary evidences produced by his lawyer SV Raju.

An Ahmedabad court had last month passed an order barring The Wire from publishing any further report on Jay Shah’s business turnover “so that the right to live with dignity of the plaintiff (Jay) may be protected”. Additional Senior Civil Judge B K Dasondi of Ahmedabad rural court had observed that the “injunction should be granted to applicant/plaintiff (Jay)” even though notice was not served upon the opposite parties (The Wire, its editor, the writer of the article, and others).

The order stated, “This court is of the opinion that if the application (of Jay) is not allowed, then it may lead to prejudice with the rights and interest of the applicant.”

In his order, the judge had prohibited the website from “using and publishing or printing in any electronic, print, digital or any other media, or broadcast, telecast, print and publish… in any language on the basis of article published in “The Wire” dated 8/10/17 either directly or indirectly on the subject matter with respect to plaintiff in any manner whatsoever”.

The case has generated keen interest among the people and, according to Lokniti-CSDS’ survey, despite the BJP’s attempts to defend Jay Shah and the defamation case, a substantial number of people – including nearly 50% of traditional BJP voters – think an inquiry is needed into the workings of the firm owned by Amit Shah’s son.

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